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4 Easy-to-Do Spine Stretches For Office Workers

15 June 2023

If you spend hours sitting at a desk, you would know how annoying niggle in the neck and back feels that doesn't seem to go away.

Neck pain and backache are one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions experienced by individuals with a desk job. Statistics reveal that around 43-63% of office workers experience neck and back pain, which is the highest rate of incidence among all other occupations.

Why Do Office Workers Get Neck and Back Pain?

Several physical, psychological, and ergonomic contributors lead to neck and back pain among office workers. First, they have to spend long hours in a stationary position in front of the screen. Prolonged sitting is one of the major contributors to neck and back pain.

Moreover, slouching and hunching over the screen is another integral reason why individuals with a desk job often struggle with neck and back pain. The inadequate posture strains the joints in the neck, causing the muscles in the region to overwork which contributes to aches and pains.

How to Address Neck and Back Pain?

Given that neck and back pain is one of the leading workplace concerns for employees with a desk job, it's critical to know how you can address this condition.

There's no single strategy to address hurting your neck and back especially when you have a desk job. Before you get into the details of fixing the issue, you need to know why your neck and back hurts. Is it your posture? Or does your work setup strain your spine? Are you involved in enough physical activity after work?

Ergonomic Intervention and Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

A well-conducted study examined the interventions for the prevention and management of neck and back pain among office workers. The results reveal that ergonomic interventions, along with stretching and strengthening exercise at and after work, is most effective in reducing neck and back pain. Moreover, you should also ensure that you maintain good posture while you are at work and even after work when you are relaxing at home.

If you're wondering what ergonomic interventions mean, it refers to setting up an ergonomic workstation that supports your body's natural structure, including the natural spinal curve. While most individuals believe that an ergonomic office chair makes the best ergonomic intervention, that's not always the case. A better ergonomic intervention would be a gaming chair. A gaming chair from a reliable supplier like FlexiSpot, such as Gaming Chair GC02, makes one of the best ergonomic interventions for workplaces as it offers exceptional support to the users. It supports the natural spinal curvature by offering an adjustable backrest feature while providing adequate support to your neck.

Find out more about this ergonomic piece of office equipment here.

Apart from ergonomic intervention, the other most critical aspect of addressing neck and back pain is stretching and strengthening exercises.

Let's look at a few easy-to-do spinal stretches that make the most effective intervention for neck and back pain management among office workers.

4 Easy-to-Do Spinal Stretches for Office Workers

Standing Desk Plank

Planks make one of the best stretches for strengthening your neck and back muscles, which plays an integral role in posture management. With regular practice, planks help you improve your posture which plays a vital role in preventing and managing neck and back pain among office workers.

Moreover, since the stretch involves your core muscles, it improves your flexibility while enhancing your metabolism, which makes it another reason why planks make the right choice of stretches for office workers.

If you do the plank every day, you'll notice a significant improvement in your posture and a reduction in pain and discomfort in your neck and back.

Planks make a great workout, but you don't always have to do it on the floor. If you're an office worker who spends long hours in the office, you can still benefit from this workout by trying out standing desk planks. You don't need any extra office space for this stretch. All you need is a standard workstation and enough space on one side of the desk that allows you to extend your legs with your toes on the floor.

Here's how to go about standing desk planks.

Place your forearms on your workstation with your hands touching. Now extend your legs such that your body is supported by your arms resting at the desk, whereas your legs are stretched with toes on the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles and ensure that your body forms a straight line from head to toe without lifting or sinking your hips.

Hold the position for 10–15 seconds. Get back into the resting position and repeat at least 5-10 times aiming to increase the holding time with each repetition.

Chair Sit & Stand

Another great exercise for office workers is the chair sit and stand. You can conveniently do this exercise while you're at work. All you need is an office chair that adequately supports your body.

The workout involves your leg and back muscles and aims at strengthening your lower body to improve your mobility and flexibility. While you may need assistance from your hands to perform this exercise initially, over time, as your leg muscles gain strength, it will get easier to perform this workout without the support of your hands.

Here's how to do this stretching exercise while you're at the office.

Start by standing in front of your office chair with legs shoulder-width apart. Squat down, pushing your body lower as if you're about to sit on the chair; however, your hips shouldn't touch the chair. As you lower your body, maintain a straight back while keeping your knees above the feet with weight on your heels. Hold the squatting position for at least 10 seconds before you return to your original position. Aim for repeating the stretch at least 10-15 times.

You can gradually increase the duration for which you hold the stretch and the frequency of repetitions.

Seated Ceiling Reach

While you're seated and working on the computer screen, it puts a lot of strain on your neck muscles which is why it's equally important to strengthen your neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles.

One of the easy spinal stretches to strengthen your upper back is the seated ceiling reach. The passive stretching technique improves flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. It helps ease pain and discomfort in your upper back and improve your performance at work while reducing your risk of injury.

To try out this stretch, you need to start by sitting comfortably in your working chair. Now clasp your hands together right above your head such that your palms are facing the ceiling. Next, you need to push your arms up towards the ceiling such that you feel the stretch in your shoulders, upper back, and upper arms.

Hold this stretch for up to 15 seconds while taking deep breaths. Aim for performing at least two sets, gradually increasing the duration and frequency of the stretch.

Seated Chest and Back Stretch

Last on the list of easy-to-do spine stretches for office workers is the seated chest and back stretch. The simple to-perform stretch helps open up your chest cavity and loosen your biceps and shoulder muscles. The stretch also helps improve your arm's range of motion while increasing the flexibility of your arm, shoulders, and neck muscles.

To try out this stretch, you must comfortably sit at your supported ergonomic office chair, clasping your hands behind your lower back. Next, push your chest outward while raising your chin. If you're already experiencing pain and discomfort in your neck and shoulder muscles, you'll have slight discomfort as you get into this position; however, with repetitions, as your neck muscles gain strength, the pain and discomfort will get better. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds as you continue to breathe deeply.

The other part of the stretch involves straightening your arms and stretching them with your palms facing downward so that your head is in line with your arms and your chin pressed against your chest. The position will require you to round your back as you look down. Hold the position for up to 15 seconds while breathing deeply.

Aim for performing at least ten repetitions and at least two sets of this stretch. You can continue to increase the duration of the hold and frequency of the stretch as your neck muscles gain strength over time.

Final Words

Office workers often struggle with neck and back pain due to prolonged sitting, inappropriate posture, and improper ergonomics. Ergonomic intervention regarding the right office equipment and appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises is integral in improving spinal discomfort, neck flexibility, and range of motion.